UCSD’s contradictions and hypocrisy offset by the efforts of truly visionary, enlightened professors

    In some respects, the phrase “Returned Yank” does not accurately present what this column has attempted to achieve. The phrase is used in Ireland to refer to Irish who immigrated to America, only to return fattened up and sporting pockets brimming with money. By the time of their return, these Irish are more “yank” than “mics,” and thus they are derided as such by their peers.

    I am not an Irish citizen, nor are my pockets brimming with money; however this phrase still proves useful to the column, if only in a metaphorical sense. For everyone who will be graduating in two weeks, we will be returning to the real world, brimming with knowledge and fattened on idealism. For many, we will be derided as college students who don’t have any understanding of the workings of real life.

    With the apprehension of real life that undoubtedly occurs with every graduating senior, it is tempting to review the four years spent submerged in a university. Unfortunately, in my case, it is also tempting to shower my thoughts onto what’s left of my readership.

    Four years ago, fresh out of a fundamentalist Christian high school, wherein using the Lord’s name vainly was grounds for expulsion, I was starved for anyone who valued knowledge above religious masochism. What I found, and what I have learned over the course of four years, is that my high school and this institution of higher learning are not terribly different. Both are places of exaggerated contradiction and relative dislike for rhyme or reason.

    Christian high schools are notorious for their judgmental nature. One might think that universities are less judgmental, as they value intellectual discourse and often a bit of moral ambiguity. This is not the case at all. There is enough self-righteousness at UCSD to keep Pat Robertson happy. The amount of blame-placing and high moral grounds is, at times, astounding. I have been called selfish by more people than I can count because I don’t blindly agree with heavy-handed tactics of “social responsibility” and other government-enforced charities. I have often wondered how this is any different from being called a sinner for not believing in an American Christian theocracy.

    Christian schools claim to support the forgiveness and love of Jesus and yet, with iron-fisted rules, anyone can tell that the opposite is true. Likewise, universities embrace tolerance and diversity, yet they only embrace the diversity of a few special interest groups and vaguely defined races. Tolerance is only allowed for those views that are acceptable. Even worse, statistics are twisted to present supposedly intellectual facts, such as in the recent report from the Office of the Registrar, wherein many argue that because women are “underrepresented” in the science and engineering fields, there must be something wrong with those fields.

    Christian schools, especially some of the more backwards schools in the South, claim to hate racism, yet there is a strange sense that there is still racial resentment beneath the public statements of the school.

    UCSD talks of the Principles of the Community and does indeed enforce them in cases of their choosing, such as all instances of the Koala controversy. However, the administration freely let the Muslim Student Association wave the Israeli flag next to a swastika last month in a Library Walk display — an act that would obviously offend Jews with any relationship to the Holocaust.

    It is ironic that universities, which have done so much to promote peace and understanding between Muslims and ignorant Americans after Sept. 11, are the place where some are allowed to practice the most vitriol and hate.

    However, despite all these contradictions and my own frustration at attending a university where reason and intellect are often thrown out the window, UCSD is still a wonderful place. Friends made over the course of these four years are often likely to be friends long into the future. The research is world-renowned and UCSD professors are some of the most intelligent people in the country. The endless amount of organizations and activities presented on campus allow students to find out what they want out of life.

    Despite the existence of people who support ignorance and agendas over intellectual discourse, there are people on this campus who truly bring a feeling of what universities are supposed to be like.

    Thurgood Marshall College Provost Cecil Lytle, who put much of his time and effort into the unrivaled Preuss school, shows how far intelligent concern and compassion can go. He does this while stunning crowds on his piano and being a steady lifeline to students abroad in England and Ireland.

    While controversial and often politicized, professors like William O’Brien of the Literature department — who teaches Revelle College humanities classes — still care more about their students thinking rather than blindly believing anything they say.

    Political science professors like Victor Magagna allow students to truly decide what they agree with, as all aspects of the discussion are presented.

    Ecology professor David Holway, who permits nearly every Ecology, Behavior and Evolution student to volunteer in his lab, is a paragon of intellectual discourse. For the sake of truly enlightened teaching, he will even offer the potential advantages of genetically modified foods, an often politically disagreeable topic to ecologists.

    Metabolic biochemistry professor Randy Hampton will lie on the ground pleading with you not to smoke, or go on the Atkins diet during the course to give you a live case study, but will not neglect one minute aspect of metabolism, much to the dismay of his students but to the delight of intelligentsia.

    Despite the highly visible and often disgusting aspects of the university, there are surely many people who make this campus amazing who I didn’t have the opportunity to meet. In this sense, despite my own jaded outlook on universities and my disappointment that so many of our peers and authorities have rejected knowledge for trends or emotions, this university has provided me with opportunities and outlets for desire, should I only want to grab them.

    In many ways, it is terrifying to leave the soft bubble of the idealistic campus, as any graduate might tell you. But, as in most phases of life, it will only be humiliating to continue to stay, knowing that I’m already finished. Real life awaits, and hopefully it will be everything it should be: just an exaggerated contradiction, as college was. Go neiri an bothar leat. Slán go foill.

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